Suicide Bombers Kill 26 in Three Attacks in Cameroon Far North

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At least 26 people were killed on Monday when three suicide bombers blew themselves up at a market in the far north of Cameroon, a region often targeted by Nigeria's Boko Haram.

Police said the assailants hit a local market in Bodo village near the frontier with Nigeria in one of the most deadly attacks in the Far North since 2013.

"An initial toll shows 29 dead and around 30 injured," a police source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity and saying the toll included the three suicide bombers.

Nearly 1,200 people have been killed since 2013 when Boko Haram began attacking Cameroon's Far North, an area which borders the Islamist group's stronghold in northeastern Nigeria.

"In total, 1,098 civilians, 67 of our soldiers and three police officials have been killed in these barbaric attacks by the Boko Haram terrorist group," Communications Minister Issa Chiroma Bakary said earlier this month.

In that time, officials say there have been more than 30 suicide attacks blamed on Boko Haram, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group.

This year, there have been attacks on an almost daily basis, some of which have been backed by incursions.

Last week, four worshipers were killed in a suicide bombing at a mosque in the northern village of Nguetchewe, just days after a similar attack on another mosque in the Far North killed 12.

In recent years, Boko Haram fighters have slipped back and forth across the frontier, often using Cameroon's remote north as a rear base, acquiring arms, vehicles and supplies there.

But since late November, the Cameroon army has carried out operations in several border areas aimed at weakening Nigerian jihadists active in the region, with sources saying the raids have significantly weakened Boko Haram's capabilities.

As a result, the insurgents have turned away from direct confrontation with the military in favor of suicide attacks, increasingly staged by women and girls.

The Nigeria-based jihadists have killed at least 17,000 people and made more than 2.6 million others homeless since their six-year campaign began.

Boko Haram, facing the heat of a military onslaught back home, has in the past year stepped up cross-border attacks in Niger, Chad and Cameroon while continuing shooting and suicide assaults on markets, mosques and other mostly civilian targets within Nigeria itself.

The group has increasingly targeted imams and traditional chiefs for their opposition to the Islamists.

Cameroon has meanwhile banned the Islamic veil in a bid to preempt suicide bombings staged by attackers wearing the full-face veil.

Along with Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Benin, Cameroon is part of a regional military force fighting the jihadists.

Despite the offensives launched by the regional force, the group maintains strongholds in areas that are difficult to access, such as the Sambisa forest, the Mandara mountains and the numerous islands of Lake Chad.

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